New Mexico legislators introduce bill to protect wilderness in Rio Grande del Norte National Monument

Rio Grande del Norte National Monument – photo courtesy Wikimedia

Two members of New Mexico’s Congressional delegation have introduced a bill that would designate more than 13,000 acres within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument near Questa. The proposal would protect a volcanic caldera that provides a roadless corridor benefitting elk, bears, and mountain lions.

The bill aims to correct an omission in the Cerros del Norte Conservation Act, which became law as part of a broad public lands bill signed by the president in March 2019. That legislation established the 13,420 acre Cerro del Yuta Wilderness and the 8,120 acre Río San Antonio Wilderness.

Democratic Reps. Deb Haaland and Ben Ray Lujan are co-sponsoring the bill to establish the Cerro de la Olla Wilderness.

New Mexico’s two senators, Martin Heinrich (D) and Tom Udall (D), introduced similar legislation in January 2020. Their bill was given a hearing by the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining, in September.

President Barack Obama designated the national monument in March 2013.

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